West Indies bounce back with triple blow


India reached 182 for five at tea but three wickets – including half century-makers Abhinav Mukund and VVS Laxman – jolted them in the third Test against West Indies on Friday. Mukund hit the top score so far of 62, and Laxman supported with 56, featuring in two successive half century stands, as the Indians continued their reply to West Indies’ first innings total of 204 on the third day at Windsor Park.
But their carelessness, as well as Virat Kohli’s, brought West Indies back into the game with their attack hamstrung by an illness that sidelined fast bowler Ravi Rampaul. Mukund added 98 with Laxman either side of tea before he was caught at forward short leg off leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, when playing defensively on the back-foot, he inside-edged the ball, which ricocheted onto his thigh pad and into the hands of the gleeful fielder. The left-handed opener struck five fours from 149 balls in a little over three hours. Kohli has been under pressure to perform, and spent just over an hour to continue the grind, putting on 52 for the fourth wicket with Laxman before he was caught behind down the leg-side off West Indies captain Darren Sammy for 30.
Laxman boosted West Indies’ spirits, when he was stumped in bizarre fashion for 56, becoming the ninth Test scalp for Shivnarine Chanderpaul, peddling his uncomplicated leg-spin. The stylish Indian batsman batted for a little over three and a half hours striking three fours from 129 balls. He reached his 50 from 113 balls with a pull off a short delivery from Bishoo, but he absentmindedly failed to keep his back-foot grounded, after leaving alone a delivery from Chanderpaul. West Indies wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh effected the stumping, confirmed by the TV replay umpire. Before lunch, Mukund and Laxman steadied India, carrying them to 102 for two at the interval. Mukund reached his 50 from 132 balls, playing a delivery from Bishoo uppishly through mid-on off the back-foot for a single. He and Laxman settled things down for the visitors, after they lost the wickets of opener Murali Vijay and former captain Rahul Dravid inside the first hour.
Vijay’s horrific form on this trip continued, when he was caught behind off Fidel Edwards for five, playing defensively forward at a delivery that moved away outside the off-stump.
Dravid, whose 212 runs prior to the match was a series-high, was undone by an unplayable delivery from Sammy that moved back sharply, and was bowled between bat and pad for five. India were 18 for two, but Laxman joined Mukund, and they batted fluently to consolidate their side’s position. India hold a 1-0 lead in the three Test series, following a 63-run victory inside four days in the first Test at Sabina Park in Jamaica, and a draw in the second Test at Kensington Oval in Barbados.
The visitors are looking to wrap up their second straight Test series victory over West Indies in the Caribbean. They are also looking to create a piece of history by becoming the first Indian side to win a Test and One-day International series in the Caribbean.